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PRODUCTIVITY

The 16 Best Snacks To Eat At Your Desk

These snacks will give you a boost of energy and help you stay productive all day long.
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What you eat all day doesn't just impact your health and weight; it affects your productivity, too.

"If you eat high fat, high sugar meals and snacks you will be sleepy and have low energy overall," says Lisa De Fazio, a healthy lifestyle expert and registered dietitian. "High fat foods take more work to digest. Candy causes sugar to spike in your blood stream then crash, and you also may have an upset stomach. Who can be productive with all of this going on?"

But, unfortunately, she says, many people tend to make bad eating decisions during the workday.

"Boredom and stress often lead to mindless snacking on things like sweets and chips," De Fazio explains. "Also, there may be limited healthy food choices or too many temptations around the office, like candy dishes on your colleagues' desks, cupcakes for birthdays, or greasy pizza during lunch meetings." 

Time--or lack thereof--also plays a part. "One of the reasons people don't stick to their healthy eating resolutions of bringing their own homemade prepared food, rather than ordering or eating out, is because of a lack of time," explains Nicole Maftoum, a Lebanese clinical dietitian. "In a fast-paced world, fast food comes as the optimum solution."

Maftoum says sleep deprivation also affects appetite and pushes one to eat twice the amount of calories that they'd typically consume in a day.

The experts say all of these factors make it easy for us to develop bad eating habits at work--but they're terrible excuses.

Luckily, there are plenty of quick, easy, and inexpensive healthy snack options.

Almonds: Almonds are a great source of protein and healthy fat that is satisfying. "They contain nine essential nutrients; have the highest rate of proteins when compared to other nuts; have the highest rate of fiber (3.5g per 23 pieces) when compared to other nuts; are rich in Vitamin E (23 pieces provide 35% of the daily value of Vitamin E); and contain monounsaturated fats that help increase HDL levels," Maftoum says.

 

Low-fat Popcorn: This low-calorie snack will satisfy your craving for something salty and crunchy, and it’s also a good source of fiber, De Fazio says.

 

Fresh Fruit: Fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals, and are full of great natural sweetness, Maftoum says. "They are also a great source of antioxidants needed for a stronger immune system and a better performance at work."

 

Dried Fruit: Fresh fruit is always a great snack option — but if you want to mix things up, try dried apricots, raisins, apples, or bananas. These snacks are sweet, chewy, high in fiber, and high in potassium.

 

Dry Cereal: The brain draws nearly all its energy from glucose, which is the most important simple sugar in human metabolism, Maftoum explains. "Consumption of low glycemic index foods like bran flakes will release glucose at a slow rate in the bloodstream, which will minimize blood sugar swings and optimize brainpower and mental focus."

 

Protein Bar: Be careful with these! Some protein bars are packed with calories. Check the ingredients and make sure the one you pick has fruit, nuts, and fewer than 200 calories.

 

Mini Flavored Rice Cakes: Rice cakes are great because they are low calorie and come in different flavors. For instance, you can get cheddar or caramel, depending on whether you want salty or sweet, De Fazio says.

 

Pretzels: Though they’re salty, pretzels are low in fat and give you some carbs to hold you over until lunch or dinner, De Fazio says.

 

Frozen Banana: This is a great substitute to ice cream, which is rich in sugar and fat. A medium-sized banana contains the needed amount of glucose by the brain to perform at its best.

 

String Cheese or Cottage Cheese: If you have an office refrigerator, these are good sources of protein to have on hand. "Protein will keep blood sugar levels steady and will not make you sleepy," De Fazio explains.

 

Wasabi Peas: These are perfect for satisfying any salty, crunchy, or spicy craving — and they have protein and fiber, which will energize you and prevent blood sugars from dropping.

 

Hard-boiled Egg: This is an excellent source of protein, which will satisfy hunger and stabilize blood sugars. But be aware of the offensive smell! Eat your hard-boiled egg in the office kitchen.

 

Vegetables and Hummus: Hummus and veggies, like carrots, provide crunch, sweetness, and carbohydrates. "You get all the nutrients you need with this satisfying snack," De Fazio says. The chickpeas in hummus are also a good source of calcium, iron, protein, and fiber, which prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly, Maftoum explains.

 

Tomato Juice: Sometimes when you think you are hungry or crave sugar, you are actually thirsty, De Fazio explains. Next time this happens, try drinking a can of low sodium tomato or vegetable juice.

 

Yogurt: Many yogurts are made using "good bacteria," which is great for your digestive tract. Yogurt also contains probiotics, and offers protein, calcium, vitamins, potassium, and magnesium.

 

Apples and Peanut Butter: The apple provides fiber and carbohydrates for energy, while the peanut butter (you can also use almond butter) provides healthy monounsaturated fat and protein, which stabilizes blood sugar ups and downs. "This snack is so tasty and satisfying and will hold you over for a few hours," De Fazio says.

IMAGES: socialeurope/Flickr, Flickr
Last updated: Jun 6, 2014




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